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Report: John Beilein taking role in player development with Detroit Pistons

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Basketball lifer not ready to retire yet

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional Practice Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Former University of Michigan and Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein will join the Detroit Pistons as a senior adviser focused on player development, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. An official announcement is expected this week, Stein reports.

Beilein has been a frequent presence at Little Caesars Arena this season and apparently wasn’t ready to step away from the game after not even lasting a full season into a five-year deal to be the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

His coaching career saw him rise from high school to community college to slowly advancing through the ranks to one of the most storied programs in college basketball at the University of Michigan.

He won two Big 10 Championships and made two national championship games. Beilein was a hot coach for open NBA jobs, including in Detroit when the organization was looking to move on from Stan Van Gundy.

Eventually, Beilein signed a big-money deal to rebuild the Cavs with his reputation for a modern NBA-style offense and his player development track record.

His time in Cleveland was almost instantly disastrous beginning with training camp. It seems Beilein was more old-school than originally imagined, didn’t know how to communicate with NBA players and was “stunned by the culture of the modern NBA player” which ... yikes. And double yikes was the infamous moment he called his players “thugs.” He said he meant to say “slugs.” Cut to, Beilein is fired and he leaves $12 million on the table to leave a toxic situation which he seemingly had a large role in creating.

As far as what he will do in Detroit, the fact that he is a senior adviser and does not seem to work directly under Director of Player Development Tim Grgurich and his stable of player development coaches. Then again, Grgurich is already 78 years old and so perhaps Beilein is looked on as an eventual replacement for the celebrated Grgurich.

For now, it seems Beilein will be a trusted voice in the room but not have much authority. And perhaps he stays connected to the game in Detroit until he’s ready to retire, perhaps even leading the player development program, or he is biding time until a coaching opportunity in college comes along again.

He was celebrated in college for his ability to communicate to and teach young, impressionable players the game of basketball. In the pros, the pressures and scrutiny of the top job was perhaps too stressful and Belein too reluctant to adjust his style to his new audience.

In a lower-stress setting, in a role that is all about teaching the game perhaps he will finally find the perfect fit for him in the pro game.

What are your thoughts, Pistons fans?

Update: The Detroit Pistons make it official via news release with quotes from Tom Gores and Dwane Casey. Interesting that there are no quotes from Troy Weaver and that Gores attributes the hire to Casey:

DETROIT – The Detroit Pistons announced today that the club has named John Beilein as senior advisor/player development. In this role, Beilein will work closely with the team’s coaching staff and development coaches to analyze, implement and execute player skill development programs.

“There is nothing more important to our franchise right now than the growth and development of our players,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores. “Having spent time with John, we all know he is one of the best teachers in the game of basketball at any level. Dwane’s decision and desire to bring him on board underscores our commitment to helping this young Pistons team maximize its potential. John will be a real asset to the organization and we are fortunate to have him join us.”

Beilein spent 12 seasons (2007-19) as head coach at the University of Michigan where he compiled a 278-150 (.650) record with the Wolverines and led them to nine NCAA Tournament appearances including five trips to the Sweet 16, two to the Final Four and National Championship Game appearances in 2013 and 2018. Under Beilein’s leadership, Michigan won two Big Ten regular season and two Big Ten Tournament titles. Following Michigan, he served as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers for part of the 2019-20 season.

“John has been one of the best fundamental teachers in the college game for years,” said Dwane Casey, head coach of the Detroit Pistons. “With the age of our core group I wanted to add to our excellent developmental staff. John is a basketball lifer with a passion to help young players get better, especially in the area of shooting. We have an excellent group of young development coaches who have done a good job with our young core. John will add to and enrich the development staff’s quest to get our youth brigade to the next level.”

Overall, Beilein owns an 829-468 (.639) record as a collegiate head coach and recorded 23 seasons with 20-plus wins. He’s finished with a winning record in 35 college seasons and guided his teams to 20 career postseason appearances. Beilein’s other collegiate coaching stops include Erie CC, Nazareth (NY), Le Moyne, Canisius, Richmond and West Virginia.